Fishing for a Future: Local Institutions, Aspirations and Agency in a Complex Climate Adaptation System

Thomas A Smucker, Ben Wisner


Abstract This study of two dryland fishing villages in northern Tanzania focuses on observed climate change adaptations, including market exchange, livelihood diversification, and mobility and their mediation by institutions and institutional interactions at various scales. We draw on the adaptation, institutions and livelihood (AIL) framework to highlight the key roles of local formal institutions in shaping adaptive strategies. Core contentions of political ecology inform our assessment of the origins and limitations of contemporary institutional configurations. Our household survey data suggests high levels of mobility and the potential that livelihoods are transitioning toward a persistent mode of flexible, multi-site and temporally variable livelihood engagements. The results point to the need for a closer alignment of national policy with the daily struggles of rural dwellers, and the devolution of more discretionary finance to district governments.

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